Mohali: The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi shook in vibration as Jeakson Singh took off on a run celebrating, having netted India’s first ever goal in a FIFA World Cup. The boy of 17 who was initially not even a part of the U-17 World Cup created history and the country showered him with praise and applause having found a new hero, one, who along with the other members of the Indian U-17 team has the potential of achieving new dreams for the land of billions. But it was not a surprise to Minerva Punjab FC, a Chandigarh based football club that had made it’s debut in the I-League (top division of Indian football) just in the previous edition.
The club contributed a whopping 12 players to the India U-17 World Cup squad including Jeakson, defender Anwar Ali and midfielder Nongdamba Naorem, all of whom played for the country. The club had nurtured and developed the young children into players that the country will later celebrate. Such has been the influence of Minerva to Indian football that the club has already contributed 30 footballers that represented the country among the different age categories, a feat not matched by any Indian club. While most football fans fret over top Indian clubs such as Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Bengaluru FC, the Chandigarh based club is slowly rising to be the breeding ground of Indian football.
Possessing one of the best facilities on its 10 acre campus, which includes 3 full size football fields, Physiotherapy Centre, Gym and residental facilities for over 200 academy players and staff, the club has attracted players from different regions of the country and Ranjit Bajaj, a proud owner and CEO of the club has to be given a lot of credit for the success.
A die-hard football fan himself, the Roadies Season 1 finalist has build up a world class football academy let alone a football club. “We have been able to do in two years than no other club has been able to do in so many years. We are proud of our achievements and would want to continue providing to the national team,” he said delighted.
For a club that broke into the national scene in 2015, it comes as a big achievement. In fact, many players that has passed out from the academy now plies their trade in different football clubs across the country. North India’s only club to participate in the I-League Minerva behind the scenes remains football’s long serving servant to India.
Here are the list of all the 30 players :
Indian National Senior Team
India U-23 Football Team
India U-19 Football Team
India U-17 World Cup Team
Naorem Bhagirat Singh
India U-15 Football Team
Vikram Pratap (Captain India U-15 & U-16 Team)